North York advances plan for Spooky Nook-style athletics complex

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

North York officials advanced plans for a major athletic complex — previously compared to Spooky Nook by the developers — at the vacant fields of the former Central York High School.

Some questions, however, remained about the complex as the borough's planning committee moved the application on toward consideration by the full council.

At a planning meeting Tuesday night, developer Jeff Inch, of Inch and Co., said the complex would have 500 parking spaces, a gym facility, turf fields for a dozen sports and a wellness facility.

Interstate-83, at left, near the former Central York High School athletic field in North York Borough, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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"It gets kids out of trouble, gives them a place to be, go to learn," Inch said. "You're not getting rich off of this thing, but if you run it the right way, you help a lot of people."

Spooky Nook Sports, located in Manheim, Lancaster County, is the largest indoor sports complex in the United States, offering indoor fields and courts for more than a dozen sports, according to its website. The Nook also offers outdoor recreation opportunities —  making it a hot destination for clubs, tournaments and competitions, it says.

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Since the first announcements of a development project at the former high school, concerns regarding pricing came into question.

"I think it's a great idea," resident Emily Marie said, "but my concern is: Will it be affordable for local kids or is it going to just be a money maker for those proposing this idea?"

A digital rendering of the proposed athletic facility at the site of the former Central York High School athletic field in North York borough. Courtesy of Inch and Co

During Tuesday's meeting, Inch initially said gym memberships to the facility could start at $39 a month.

"Some of these questions we haven't gotten really deep into yet," Inch said. "But I hope to be somewhere, you know, $39 to $59 somewhere now. I think there's going to be a lot of levels to it ... I want to make it affordable for people, but at the same time we're going to keep the lights on."

Some residents in attendance countered the idea immediately, stating that North York has mostly low income households that couldn't afford the prices Inch named.

As further dialogue and ideas bounced around, the possibility of a borough discount was suggested.

"We're trying to balance the whole thing so that it breaks even or, somewhere around breaking even," Inch said. "I don't want to say, 'yes, we're going to do this 100%' because it affects a whole lot of things down the road. But I think my brother and I, I think our purpose is to be able to give the borough at least a discount on the membership."

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In addition to the pricing scale, Inch said the facility could partner with a large area medical provider to bring services such as hydrotherapy and massages. Though he could not disclose which provider is involved, Inch confirmed the sports complex will be named after the medical provider. He also said the partner will be "invested in some way into it."

"This isn't a profit play," Inch said. "We'd be better off doing something else with our time, but we are determined to bring something to York that hasn't been in York."

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The former Central York School District property languished for years without any movement toward redevelopment — despite previous attempts by others. That includes local restaurant owner Themistoklis Sacarellos, whose proposal to turn the space into a warehouse was rejected by the North York Borough Council in 2021.

Work at the site could start as early as next month, as Inch and Co. is actively seeking a demolition permit to start cleaning up the property.

Working on an "ultra-aggressive" timetable, Inch said, he would ideally want to see the facility open in the beginning of 2024.

"We want to be in there moving as soon as possible, and we want to build it as soon as possible," Inch said. "All we wait on is the permits and the approval to do that. And so we push as hard as we can to make that happen."